Renowned authors Lee Maracle, Daniel Heath-Justice, Richard Wagamese and award winning Metis poet Marilyn Dumont all descended on the U of T campus for the one-day Indigenous Writers’ Gathering last week.
After a breakfast with the writers, panels kicked off with traditional Metis Rogarou stories. Other workshops included discussing fiction with Richard Wagamese, “Declaring and Taking Back The Power of Words” and “Indigenous Literature: Where We Have Been and Where We Need To Go.”
“Never throw away anything you write. If you trim from a story, keep that in a separate file because you can always go back to it,” Maracle explained.
Cherie Dimaline reiterated her mentor’s advice, sharing that this very exercise resulted in a second book of short stories while editing her upcoming novel “The Girl Who Grew A Galaxy.”
Dimaline also stressed the importance of reading what you’re producing “If you are writing fiction, read fiction. If you’re writing poetry, read poetry; you can only get out what you put in.”
The Writers’ Gathering ended with a gala evening event at the beautiful Capitol Theatre. Muskrat Magazine also launched its third issue featuring work from some of the authors. CBC’s Sidd Bobb and Wab Kinew hosted the gala with a special reading by author and former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario James Bartleman. Readings were interspersed with a performance by Cree cellist sensation Cris Derkson and hoop dancing by Canada’s Got Talent Finalist Lisa Odjig.
The Indigenous Writers Gathering already attracts the biggest names in Aboriginal literature, and in its fifth year showed that it’s continuing to gain momentum.
Christine McFarlane is a Saulteaux woman from Peguis First Nation and a contributing editor at The Toronto Review of Books. She has a regular column in the Native Canadian Newsletter, and freelances for Anishinabek News, First Nations House Magazine, Windspeaker, New Tribe Magazine, and firstperspective.ca.
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